Sir Pe pulled the sandpit up yesterday. The sandpit where the kids spent hours playing with wet sand and making sand soup, and then trailing in the sand on their damp clothes. When they dried, golden dunes of sand could be found hiding around the house and secreting themselves under the feet and in the beds.


Now we have a garden that is acting like Greta Garbo. Listen carefully!

Can’t you hear it saying:

“I want to be a lawn!”

The historic trousers

You know that meme where you go to the fifth folder and publish the fifth photo?

Well, this isn’t it! For one thing, my photos are not that well organized! And for another, Sir Pe won’t get off my case unless I show you his butt! Sorry, I mean his new trousers.


You see, these are not any old trousers… And they are more than just new trousers: they are historic trousers.

As(s) we go through life, we tend to buy clothes that are the next size up. Or, if you’re a kid, you might shoot up one summer and go up two sizes at once.

And then, as adults, we tend to creep up in size and shape as we get older. Or, we stay more or less the same size, even if everything is going earthwards as if dragged by gravity.

Sir Pe has always bought new trousers that are bigger than the old ones. Until now. After lots of dog walking and giving up his breakfast chocolate bar (I know! Don’t even ask…) – he has now gone down a size.

He celebrated by buying three pairs of historic trousers. And mighty proud he is, too – quite rightly. Although the dog didn’t really see what the fuss was all about.

Le Grande Interview – part one

How do I look? No spinach in between my teeth or holes in my trousers, I hope! Good… I’m ready for my interview with the very funny Po aka the South African Sea Monkey. She had a lot of questions, so after a quick cup of coffee, we got started. I was going to offer her some home-baked cakes, but she declined. I wonder why?

pulling-leg-cakeHow did you meet Sir Pe and how long before you got married?

Gosh – she does know how to pick them! Well, I had just written a Student’s Book (to learn English as a Foreign Language)  for a large Swedish educational publisher’s and they invited me over to Stockholm to write the Teacher’s Guide as well as other educational goodies for kids at Swedish schools.

So, I took a three-month sabbatical from my teaching job in England, and without a single word of Swedish in my baggage, turned up in Stockholm one sunny day in April back in 1996. After a couple of weeks, I decided that I ought to at least know some phrases in Swedish (it gets a bit monotonous saying Hej! all the time and sounding like the Swedish chef out of Sesame Street). So, I enrolled in a Swedish class for beginners. I found myself sitting next to the only Englishman in the class: his bow tie was a dead give-away!

This gentleman invited me to his 40th birthday party in The Limerick, a good old Irish pub in Stockholm. The date: 14th May. We went there after class, and some of Bow Tie’s workmates were there – including Sir Pe.

Now, I thought Sir Pe was a native Swede because he hadn’t spoken English for so long that when he did, HE sounded like the Swedish Chef with really bad English. Turns out he was a Swedish citizen (still is), but came originally from England.

We exchanged e-mail addresses (he was one of the few people I knew back in 1996 who actually had an e-mail address), corresponded for a couple of weeks and finally went out on a date sometime near the end of May.

Dazzled by my wit, modesty, good English and cooking skills (I burnt a hole in his coffee pot the first time I made coffee), we got engaged on 1st July 1996.

The words whirlwind romance perhaps spring to  mind. Either that or: They’re nuts! After my three months were up, I went back to England, resigned from my job, packed up everything and found someone to rent my flat.

We didn’t get married in haste though – and waited for nearly a year before tying the knot in England on May 17th, 1997.

Oh my – doesn’t time fly by when reminiscing? Only time for the one question… Po had to get back to her place PDQ because she is hosting Strange Shores #4. So, visit her blog for a plethora of more real-life tales from nutty ex-pats.

Rubber thingies and broken bones

rubberthingiesIn honour of his foot/leg’s second anniversary, Sir Pe was obviously bored at work kind enough to snap this photo for you of his rubber thingies. The ones with nails that you put on the bottom of your shoes and strap around your ankle. Even if you fell over, you would need all the skills of a yogi in order to impale yourself on them. But good luck trying.

Actually, you if you really wanted some home-made acupuncture, then I would advise going with the Leki stick. It’s got a sharp little spike that you can pull out when needed – it gives you extra grip on the ice. Actually, I was quite impressed to see that the crutches Sir Pe came home with (after his fall two years ago) also had these spike contraptions on them.

Anyway – back to the saga: on the night that Sir Pe came crashing to the ground, so did lots of other people. In fact, Sir Pe found himself in the waiting room of the hospital next to a colleague of his!

“See you around the office?”

“Not for a while…”

Instead of the usual eight falls a night, there were 42 on the night of that snowstorm. So, as you can imagine, patients were stacked up in the corridors because there was nowhere else to put them. (I imagine Michael Moore would have had a field day in there!) Sir Pe spent the first night in the corridor.

The next day and night saw him still waiting for his operation, but at least he was moved up to the deluxe accommodation. He was put into the medial supplies store room. He told me he quite enjoyed it as he got a lot of company from the doctors and nurses who kept popping in to fetch the bandages and drugs. (I’m sure he liked it because he kept inhaling….) As no one knew when he was going to be operated on, he wasn’t allowed to have any food. So, for three days he was kept on a drip with a sugar-salt solution topped up with morphine.

He was moved to a ward on the third day and – finally – got his operation that evening (i.e. three days later). The doctor had been working for two days with no rest, so it’s no wonder the bones didn’t set properly. Well, at least he got the correct leg!

What strikes me as slightly ironic is that there is a craze over here in Sweden for beds of nails. Yes, beds of nails that you might associate with India. People lie on them or stand on them. Supposed to be very therapeutic. And expensive.

Modern bed of nails

Modern bed of nails


Rubber thingies

Can you see the similarity between the nail bed and the nail soles for your shoes? Next time you want some therapy, just give me a call and, for a reasonable fee, I’ll come over and walk on your back with  my rubber thingies.

Skid pans and broken bones

funny-polar-bear-pic-img121It’s that time of year again. It’s that type of weather again. It’s February.

For us northern dwellers, February is usually the coldest time: the time for ice, snow, icicles, frosty noses and cold fingers.

However, for many people, February is a nightmare. The footpaths are skating rinks and for the unsteady of foot, going outside can be hazardous. Hence the selling out of those little rubber soles with nails in them that you can attach to the bottom of your shoes in order to get a good grip on the ice.

They are a must: but some of us only learned this the hard way. The very hard way.

Nearly exactly two years ago, Sir Pe was working late and caught the bus home in one of the worse snow blizzards ever. On that fateful evening, he got off the bus at about 10 pm. I was fast asleep when suddenly I was rudely awakened by my mobile ringing next to the bed.

“I’ve broken my leg,” was all I heard. Remember that I was in a deep sleep only seconds ago, so it took a few seconds to register that it was probably Sir Pe on the phone.

“You what?”

“I’ve broken my leg.”

“Where are you?” I wondered why he hadn’t phoned the ambulance but was phoning me.

“I don’t know.” Ah – hard to call for an ambulance when you don’t know the name of the street where you are. In between passing out, he vaguely described where he was. I threw on some trousers underneath my nightie and put on my winter jacket over my dressing gown and made a dash for the car.

I could hardly see a thing: the snow was whirling around creating a big vacuum of whiteness. I left the kids (then 3 and 5) asleep, and prayed that they wouldn’t wake up. I then went out in search for my husband and actually found him pretty quickly.

There was no street sign. So, in the end, I knocked on a nearby house, briefly described the situation and asked her what the name of the street was. This marvellous lady phoned the ambulance with the names of two nearby streets and came out with blankets for the shivering Sir Pe. It was a cold minus 13 C, the pavements were treacherous underfoot, but he had somehow managed to haul himself onto his rucksack. When the ambulance didn’t arrive within five minutes, she phoned again. They arrived and very nearly went bottoms up themselves on the icy street as they tried to lift Sir Pe onto the stretcher and carry him into the ambulance. I had to rush home to the kids, but he didn’t notice as he had passed out again.


Sir Pe does things in style and defied the doctor who told him he would be running by that summer. He broke his foot in seven places, has ten metal plates in his leg and often sets off the metal detectors at airports. The bones never set properly and after three operations, it is pretty clear that he will never run again. And will probably always need his stick to get around.

It is amazing to think how the earth can shift under you in a split second – and how that can then go on to change the direction of your life.

Think about that for a second. And then take a few minutes to appreciate all the good things that you do have: be it your health, your family, your friends. A roof over your head and food on your plate. Or even a whole service of dinner plates in your leg.

Something is missing…

… but I can’t quite put my finger on it.


The mysterious case of the exploding litter bin

A few years ago, when Anklebiter #1 was but a small, wailing toddler in nappies, she and I went to the UK to visit my sister and her kids. We dropped off the eldest cousin at school, when suddenly, it happened. The scrunched-up face, the smell. Oh, the smell! Yes, there was a poo in the nappy that just had to be changed NOW!


In those days, I had a big bag surgically attached to my shoulder, containing all the dummies, nappies, plastic bags, wet wipes, bottles and formula that were needed to sustain a small person for the day. I whipped out the changing mat, a fresh nappy and a fragranced bag for the used one, and started changing the nappy.

As you know, we’re vegetarians, so our bowels move. Yes, they certainly have got rhythm! No neat poos here, but something that can best be described as poo soup. (Sorry if any of you delicate readers are wrinkling your noses in disgust – but it’s just a part of nature, after all!)

If you’ve ever tried to put a nappy on a wriggling octopus, then you’ll know that it was no easy task, but eventually, the nappy was changed and the old one deposited in the park’s litter bin.

The next day we heard that the fire brigade had been called out because that very same litter bin had…

… you guessed it! …

… caught fire!

I know what you’re thinking – because sis and I had exactly the same thought: that yucky nappy had self-exploded!

The truth? It really was a case of arson this time, but I’m sure that that nappy worked as a mighty fine firelighter!


I’m away on business for a few days, so I’ll see you at the end of the week.

P.S. If you want to be in the Strange Shores Blog Carnival this Sunday, then send me lots of dark chocolate and I might include you! Just kidding! If you’re an expat and have something interesting, amusing or thoughtful to say about the country you live in, then drop me a comment and include a link to a suitable post.

Brass monkey weather

It’s brass monkey weather at the moment. Minus 15.5 C with no signs of getting any warmer. I decided to meet the day with two pairs of trousers and four jumpers and a coat on, topped off with a warm hat and gloves and boots.

Man – was I warm! Then I went outside for about 15 seconds before discovering that my legs were freezing, my eyelashes had turned into ice sculptures and there was an Arctic gale playing havoc with my ankles. 45 minutes later, I returned home with no feeling in my hands and toes. I must have left it out on the ice somewhere.


Picnics on the ice are short-lived affairs. It’s great fun walking or skating on the lake, but taking off our gloves to eat sandwiches gets rather painful. The dog doesn’t seem to  mind – but that might have something to do with the fact that he doesn’t have any gloves…

Anyway, gritting my teeth and pulling my hat down over my eyes (something to do with the fact that if you can’t see the cold, you can’t feel it…), I set out to suffer on your account, dear readers. Because as you know, there is nothing I will do won’t do for you!

You see, I spotted a bridge, right out there in the middle of nowhere – or so it seemed. A bridge joining two tiny spits of land in the lake. I wanted to snap the bridge in its virgin snow – but the dog got there first.


You know what? Maybe this brass monkey weather isn’t so bad after all….

Super hero punks

2009 is here – and it has been saved by my very own in-house superheroes!

In a little yellow wooden house somewhere outside Stockholm, a creature that is a cross between a hip hop Spiderman and a many-armed deity is running around the house saving winter, the New Year and the world.

Watch out! Here we come!

Watch out! Here we come!

The only question is: saving them from what?

Let them eat cake, she cried!

dog-birthday-cake-50Happy Birthday to you!

You live in the zoo!

You look like a monkey…

And you smell like one too!

By the time you get to read this, my little anklebiters will probably have ‘woken’ me up (I’ll be lying in bed, pretending to sleep) with that sweet little birthday song, some home-made birthday cards, and (if Sir Pe has picked up all those hints in the form of e-mails, notes and messages) a couple of wrapped up books to savour.

It is Swedish tradition to wake up the birthday person (child or adult) with presents, candles and birthday cake. That’s right – you have to eat cake for breakfast! We don’t usually follow this tradition although last year, I had ice cream with chocolate sauce and blueberries for breakfast!

But – if I were to have some cake – what kind would it be, do you think?

I think that all those with dentist-phobia (like myself) would like to send me a cake with a bite in revenge for my horrifying dentist stories.


To tell you the ‘tooth’, I wouldn’t look this gift horse in the mouth!

And from all those who have been appalled or amused by my sewing mishaps, I might received something a along these lines…


Sew…what do you think? Too good to eat? (So, that’s what needle and thread looks like…)

I have to confess, though, that I do have a weakness for chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Wouldn’t it be great if a big refrigerated truck drew up outside the house and delivered this eye-opening sculpture – made out of chocolate?


When 900 years you reach, look as good, you will not.
— Yoda

You know what? All I really want is my family around me – and maybe, if it’s not too much to ask… a small slice of chocolate cake.


As for you, dear readers, do feel free to help yourself to some cake!